DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE Examines Lennon-McCartney Catalog
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE, Boman Desai
Boman Desai draws the title of his new book, Dancing About Architecture; a Songwriter's Guide to the Lennon-McCartney Catalog (published by AuthorHouse), from a quote sometimes attributed to Elvis Costello: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. It's a really stupid thing to want to do."
Maybe, but it depends on who's doing the dancing. Desai is an award-winning songwriter and novelist ("A Beatle Song," The Memory of Elephants, TRIO), who has looked closely at Lennon-McCartney's 162 songs from "Love Me Do" to "The Long and Winding Road," uncovering linkages between songs that could not seem more different at first glance, but under his microscope prove to be related.
For instance, an innocuous song such as "Your Mother Should Know" sowed the seed for the killer that was "Hey Jude." The rise by half a note, "Ye-ah," concluding the earlier song, became the hook of "bet-ter" in the later. Other surprising pairings include "She Said She Said" & "Good Day Sunshine," "Thank You Girl" & "Getting Better," "Norwegian Wood" & "The Fool on the Hill," and "Martha My Dear" & "I'm So Tired" among many others, their kinship made clear through the pages of the book.
Desai also pinpoints what makes each song unique: either a chord progression never used before and never again, or a particular rhythm, harmony, structure, or sound. Continually in the quest for something new, Lennon-McCartney rarely repeated themselves when it came to such musical considerations.
The earlier songs, when they sat eyeball to eyeball, guitars at the ready, were truer collaborations than the later, but they agreed early to credit all songs with both names whoever may have provided the greater input. The Beatle primarily responsible for a song sang lead on that song, and listening closely Desai has uncovered each Beatle's songwriting fingerprints (what makes a Johnsong a Johnsong, a Paulsong a Paulsong). His most interesting discovery may well be the origin of "Yesterday," the only song for which McCartney requested sole credit (denied him by Yoko Ono), saying it had blossomed fullblown when he woke from a night's sleep, no one had anything to do with the song but himself, but John's influence on the song is undeniable as the book makes clear. Paul McCartney himself may just be amazed.